News / USA

Witnesses Testify in Ghailani Terror Trial

Accused terrorist Ahmed Ghailani in court
Accused terrorist Ahmed Ghailani in court
Larry Freund

Several witnesses to the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, testified on Wednesday during the trial of one of the accused bombers, Ahmed Ghailani.  

U.S. prosecutors continued to lay the groundwork for the case against Ahmed Ghailani, in the first civilian trial of a terrorism suspect once held at the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Ghailani is charged with conspiring in the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya.  The blasts killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

The latest testimony came from two Tanzanians employed as guards around the Dar es Salaam embassy by a private security company as well as from a Tanzanian woman who worked as a political assistant in the embassy and a U.S. Marine guard.

Valentine Matthew Katunda, one of the Tanzanian security guards, testified that on August 7, 1998, he was stationed in a guardhouse in front of the embassy, when he said he heard a loud rumbling, like lightning.  Speaking in Swahili through a translator, Katunda said he was thrown to the floor by the explosion and lost consciousness.  When he became aware of his surroundings, he said, he discovered himself covered with rubble.  He said he was trapped for more than four hours.

Justina Mdobilu, a Tanzanian lawyer who was working in the embassy as a political assistant and translator, told the jury that she was attending a meeting with the embassy's deputy chief of mission, when she saw a flash outside a window.  She said the window blew into the room and that she experienced what she called "the loudest noise I heard in my life, so painful it went through my chest and out the back."  Mdobilu, who was eight months pregnant at the time, said she was cut and bleeding, but that she was able to leave the embassy building.  Her unborn child was not hurt.

U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Brian Johnson, dressed in civilian clothes, testified that on the day of the explosion, he was stationed inside the Dar es Salaam embassy.  He said the blast knocked him to the ground.  He also said he helped rescue civilians from the embassy.

Ghailani, the accused terrorist, watched the testimony from the defense table, flanked by several of his attorneys.  During opening statements to the jury on Tuesday, he was described by one of his lawyers as an innocent dupe of the actual terrorists, and that he ran errands for the bombers without knowing their ultimate purpose.

Prosecutors argue that Ghailani was a vital member of the terrorist group and was committed to al-Qaida's goal of killing Americans.  The government says Ghailani bought the truck and gas tanks that were used in the Dar es Salaam bombing.

This first civilian trial of a terrorism suspect once held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center is being watched closely.  Presiding federal judge Lewis Kaplan already has ruled that under the U.S. Constitution, a key prosecution witness cannot testify in the trial because it would violate Ghailani's rights.  Ghailani was arrested in Pakistan in 2004 and was later moved to the Guantanamo Bay facility.   

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid